How NOT To Propose – Because Cliches Suck

Popping the question: It’s one of the biggest of life’s moments. Ideally, it’s something you only want to do once, so you only have one shot to get it right. But you want to do more than get it right, don’t you? You want to get it perfect. Unfortunately, perfect is subjective when it comes to something as highly emotionally charged as this. No matter how much planning you do, there is always the slight chance that the moment could fall flat – and not because she turns you down.

Marriage proposals can fall flat for several reasons, but clichés are the biggest culprits.

Clichés are clichés for a reason

Yes, they are, and some women still go ga-ga for tried and tested methods, but most women appreciate some original thinking.


Take it from a woman, chaps, here’s how not to propose:

1) By dropping the ring in a glass of champagne

Or balancing it on a slice of cake or hiding it in any other food or beverage. There are three reasons for this: the ring gets sticky or otherwise messy (you want to try getting cream out of the nooks and crannies around a setting?), it’s not hygienic (and most women will still want to drink their champagne or eat their cake), and it’s not safe. Swallowing an engagement ring is no laughing matter; neither is biting into one and chipping a tooth or losing a crown. Not many people scrutinise their glasses before taking a sip or examine their forks before taking a mouthful, so it’s easy for a ring to slip by.

Propose over a romantic dinner by all means, but keep the ring in the box.

2) By using a public platform

It always works in movies: Boys asks girl to marry him via the giant screen at a sports event. Girl squeals, kisses boy and says, “Of course, yes!” The crowd cheers.

It’s part of the human condition that (exhibitionists aside) we don’t like to make public spectacles of ourselves. We like to keep our private moments private, and proposing marriage is a private matter between two people.

Also, we don’t like to make decisions with an audience. Remember how awkward you felt when you were writing an exam and the invigilator came and stood right next to you. Proposing in public puts that kind of pressure times a million on your girlfriend. You don’t want to do that to someone you profess to love, do you?

Plus, what if she says no? First of all, you put her in quite a predicament because she has to turn you down in front of thousands of people. Second, you have to be turned down in front of thousands of people. Rejection is hard enough to manage without adding some insensitive catcalls and the deafening silence of strangers embarrassed on your behalf.

BTW, this also applies to proposing at Christmas dinner or any other family event.

Save your enthusiasm until after the proposal has been accepted, then you can use any public platform imaginable to announce the good news to the world.

3) At romantic destinations that have been done to death

Do you think that nothing says let’s be together forever than the Eiffel Tower or a Gondola in Venice? What about a horse and carriage in Central Park? Think again.

For starters, you’ll get no privacy on the Eiffel Tower, the horses in Central Park are unethical, and Venice … well, Venice is probably not a bad way to go, actually. The problem with proposing while on a trip abroad is that it’s expensive – and she could say no. The other problem is timing. If you propose at the beginning and she says no, then you can either suck it up and try to have a nice time for the rest of the trip, or you go home on the next flight, which is such a waste. If you wait till the end, you have to try and contain your emotions and excitement the whole time while you keep the secret. And if she says no, you’ll spend the rest of your life calling her an ungrateful, opportunistic wench and all the happy memories will be ruined.

If you want to go away, do it for a weekend and pick a destination that you know she will like (one that she has mentioned) and not one that has pride of place in a romcom. Save that for the honeymoon.

Successful proposals

The most successful proposals are the ones that come from the heart. Original thinking is great, but don’t feel pressure to try too hard. You don’t have to try and find a course in event planning to win a woman over. Women’s hearts melt just as easily on a picnic in the front yard as on the French Riviera, especially when you’ve made the sandwiches and salad yourself.

Remember that sometimes small gestures say more than big ones. And that no one likes scrubbing chocolate icing off a diamond.